Montesquieu
 

XVII.5 That when the peoples of northern Asia and those of northern Europe have conquered, the effects of the conquest were not the same

The peo­ples of nor­thern Europe conque­red it as free men ; the peo­ples of nor­thern north Asia conque­red it as sla­ves, and have van­qui­shed only for a mas­ter.

The rea­son is that the Tartar peo­ple, the natu­ral conque­rors of Asia, have them­sel­ves become ensla­ved. They conquer repea­tedly in the south of Asia, they form empi­res ; but the part of the nation that remains in the coun­try finds itself sub­jec­ted to a great mas­ter who, des­po­tic in the south, wants to do the same in the north, and who with an arbi­trary power over the conque­red sub­jects pre­tends the same over the conque­ring sub­jects. That appears clearly today in that vast coun­try we call Chinese Tartary, which the empe­ror governs almost as des­po­ti­cally as China itself, and which he extends daily with his conquests.

We can fur­ther see in the his­tory of China that the empe­rors sent Chinese colo­nies into Tartary.1 These Chinese have become Tartars and mor­tal ene­mies of China, but that does not mean they did not bring the spi­rit of Chinese govern­ment to Tartary.

Often a part of the Tartar nation that has conque­red is itself dri­ven out, and it brings back to its wil­der­ness a spi­rit of ser­vi­tude which it has acqui­red in the cli­mate of sla­very. The his­tory of China fur­ni­shes us with great exam­ples of this, and our ancient his­tory as well.2

That is why the genius of the Tartar or Getæ nation has always been like that of the empi­res of Asia. The peo­ples in these empi­res are gover­ned by the rod, the Tartar peo­ples by long whips. The spi­rit of Europe has always been oppo­sed to these ways, and what the peo­ples of Asia have in all times cal­led punish­ment, the peo­ples of Europe have cal­led abuse.3

The Tartars des­troying the Greek empire esta­bli­shed ser­vi­tude and des­po­tism in the conque­red coun­tries ; the Goths conque­ring the Roman empire foun­ded monar­chy and liberty eve­ryw­here.

I do not know whe­ther the famous Rudbeck, who in his Atlantica has so prai­sed Scandinavia,4 has spo­ken of that great pre­ro­ga­tive that should place the nations living there above all the peo­ples on earth, which is that they have been the resource of liberty in Europe, which is to say of almost all there is of it today among men.

Jornandes the Goth has cal­led the north of Europe the work­shop of the human race.5 I shall call it rather the work­shop of the ins­tru­ments that broke the chains for­ged in the south. That is where are for­med those valiant nations that emerge from their coun­try to des­troy tyrants and sla­ves, and teach men that, nature having crea­ted them equal, if rea­son made them depen­dent it could only be for their hap­pi­ness.

Like Ven-ti, fifth emperor of the fifth dynasty.

The Scythians conquered Asia three times, and were driven out all three times (Justinus, book II).

This is not contrary to what I shall say in book XXVIII, ch. xx, on the manner of thinking of the Germanic peoples about the rod ; whatever the instrument, they always saw as an affront the power or the arbitrary act of beating.

[Olaus Rudbeck, Atlantica, 1679–1702.]

Humani generis officinam.